The great and the good of Halifax gathered together at Dean Clough last night to witness the re-launch of the Design House; you can’t accuse local lad Lee Marshall of leaning on his laurels. It’s been an interesting space since its conception as a restaurant a dozen years ago, and to be fair it’s had mixed fortunes. Lee’s been in the driving seat for six years, since when it’s been more reliably consistent; probably in the top five fine dining locations in the area, though my experience has been mixed. Lee’s cooking has been innovative and creative, but he needed to keep a weather eye on his staff; no point in pushing the envelope then sending un-cooked bread out of the kitchen. But he’s passionate about Halifax and his place in it, and wants you to have a good time at his expensively souped-up dining room.
Padded white leather banquettes have replaced some of the Philippe Starck chairs, and now there’s carpet to soak up the sound; I always found the stone flags too clattery and ehcoey. Who better to manager your launch than AnnieStirk, who works the room in her customary warm and friendly fashion, dispensing smiles and goodwill.
The large Lord Mayor addresses us before we get down to some serious tasting. Dish after dish arrives, pre-cursors to the delights on offer if you book a dinner here; potted crab with lemon butter and tomatoes ‘three ways’, smoked haddock and salmon fishcake with a poached egg and chive butter sauce, and a mini version of the Holme Valley venison sausage, swede mash and honey glazed parsnip, which arrives deep fried in batter. Hmm. A Glasgow canapé, then!
The piece de resistance seems to be the Hog Board, a ‘sharing platter’ made up of any number of cuts of pig including the zeitgeisty braised cheek. If you’re paying, it comes in at a lofty £28.95, which (might look cheeky to some). However, I’m not one for looking a gift horse in the mouth, and tucked in very happily. I’m looking forward to returning soon for a proper dinner. Watch this spac